What’s Going On With Hospital Prices, Live on Thursday

Jul 25, 2012

The ongoing public dispute between Landmark Hospital in Woonsocket and private insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island continues to heat up. Today, the hospital and its allies released the results of a survey it commissioned to gauge public opinion on its battle to win higher reimbursement rates from Blue Cross. Not surprisingly, it saw, in the results, a citizenry ready to blame Blue Cross if the hospital goes under. Blue Cross shot back in a statement to me via email today that it has “negotiated in good faith” with Landmark and that, as far as the survey is concerned:

“… it does not appear that many of the respondents had adequate knowledge of the situation to form independent conclusions.”

So how about we step back from this stalemate and look at the bigger picture? The bigger picture, I think, gets at these questions:

  • what consumers pay for hospital visits and why it’s so different at each hospital;
  • why insurers (or “payors” as they’re called in the health care world) like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island are able to negotiate a different, secret reimbursement rate with different hospitals;
  • whether or not this is fair;
  • and how Rhode Island is or isn’t addressing the issue.

In a nutshell? It’s complicated. But not so complicated that I’m not ready and willing to go on the air live, tomorrow (Thursday, July 26), around 5:50 pm to discuss some of the answers I’m finding to these questions. Got some you want me to address? Chime in here or tweet me a question. I’ll see what I can do.